The Light

I’ve probably written about importance of light, of an interesting, beautiful light in landscape photography. And I’ll probably write about it many more times because it is worth it. This is one of those stories.

One of the places that we visited on the recent trip was Canyon De Chelly. When we arrived there the sky was gloomy. The light was flat and uninteresting. The images were flat and uninteresting too.

We started with the furthest viewpoint. In just a few minutes the sky broke into a small rain that within seconds turned into downpour and then into hail. There is nothing to do but to leave.

We dutifully visited every viewpoint on the way back. Eventually, the rain was over. When I walked to the next viewpoint the sun broke thru the clouds and lit up the canyon in patches of soft glow that added volume and magic to the scene.

From there on there were a lot of images worth looking at.

Only Mountains Can Be Better Than Mountains

When someone mentions Hawaii what do you think about? Sandy beaches? Blue ocean? Palm trees?

***

I go to Hawaii every year for the past I don’t know how many years. Over time I noticed a pattern: I’m more and more drawn to inland of an island. To the mountains, cold rough peaks, tropical forests.

Most memorable time of my last trip to Kauai was a hike thru a tropical forest in Waimea canyon. It was windy, cold, with a drizzle. And it was mesmerizing. I have not brought any images from the hike but I brought my best emotions from it.

Now that I’m reviewing images from the whole trip I noticed that I have not a single image of palm tree or a sandy beach. I have images of ocean but it is not blue and pleasant. It is rough and grey fighting with a rocky shore.

Next time I go to Kauai, I’ll likely spend even more time hiking inland.

Ask Locals

To Dmitri and Marina: Thanks to you guys for pointing some beautiful places in Banff.

On my trip to Alberta I met my friends Dmitri and Marina who live in Calgary. First, we met in Banff where they were celebrating 25th Anniversary of their marriage. They suggested to me a few places to see in and around Banff.

On of those places was Johnson Canyon. It sounded interesting and I went there. It is a small canyon with a stream running at the bottom. The trail is well-setup and quite active with hikers. There is a guard rail that keeps hikers of falling into canyon. For me it was an obstruction. I did not want to look at the bottom of the canyon from a distance. I’d rather be down in the canyon, close by water, to be participant not observer, to be in the scene and be part of it.

My only photo from the first trip was a photo of frozen lower waterfall:

A few days later I visited my friends at their lovely home. Sure enough we shared some photos. It turned out they went to Johnson Canyon too the next day after me. It looked to me like they were photographing close to water, just like I wanted too. I asked how they got their and they told me that there was one spot where one could climb over guard rail and get down to the bottom of the canyon.

The next day I went to Johnson Canyon again. That time I was closely watching over the guard rail for footprints in the snow and I found the spot my friends had talked about. The walk down was very steep but manageable. At the bottom I found a throve of photo opportunities. There was a small cave covered with icicles, there was clear snow not covered in footprints, , there was a stream in the snow.

Overskinned. Story 3

Black Canyon

(This is the last story in 3 story series on photographing popular destinations. This one is the happy one.)

In my travels around Colorado this fall I visited many different places. It was my first trip to Colorado and my first fall trip to Colorado and thus I spend most of the time exploring. In a few days after my arrival a sudden and unexpected snowstorm ran thru the mountains, taking off most of foliage and dusting them with snow.

On the fourth day I drove south in a search for fall foliage. That’s how I ended up staying overnight in Montrose. I arrive late at night. It was already too dark to see anything around. At a hotel I saw a tourist guide mentioning Black Canyon National Park. I was not even aware of it. I thought that since I was so close to it I might as well visit it. The brochure did not have impressive photos of it. I searched online and did not see anything impressive either. One thing for sure was that there was no fall foliage there. Thus I abandoned that idea.

In the morning I could see my surroundings. Everything was green. No fall foliage in Montrose yet. I decided east and then north to Crested Butte. Just a few miles out of Montrose travelling east I saw a sign turn to Black Canyon National Park with only a few miles to the entrance. I thought it was a sign that I should go.

I did not regret I went there. I did not find fall foliage their or amazing well-recognized photo opportunities but I found something way more important. Solitude being one-on-one with the Nature. I was almost the only visitor there. I was sitting on rocks by an edge of the canyon listening to quite singing of birds, facing warm sun and cool breeze. I would look at the deep walls of the canyon dropping down with edges lit up by the Sun. Or I would close my eyes and let the other sense sharpen and form their own world. It was so relaxing and peaceful. That reminded me what photography was too me, filled my mind and soul with creativity again.

Don’t Be Stupid

Day 4, Noon

Mosaic Canyon

Today at noon I hiked up Mosaic Canyon. It turned to be more interesting from geological and mineralogical point of view rather than from photographical. The variety of color and texture of rocks was captivating.

On the way back I saw what looked like a steep trail up to a ridge that could open up to a view of Death Valley and Mesquite Dunes. I started climbing up.

The trail was getting steeper and steeper. At some point I had to climb up a two meter drop. I had to stop to think about how to climb it and realized that I could climb up but I would unlikely be able to climb down. There is a reason why climbers slide down on ropes. Climbing down is much harder than climbing up.

I recalled what John Shaw said when was asked if he had one advice to photographers what it would be. His answer was "Don’t be stupid". Being already 15 meters up on a very steep trail with sharp rocks and nobody else making this far into the canyon, there would be no help if I make wrong move.

I carefully retraced back my steps backward (there was no room to turn around). It took longer to get back down than to walk up. Once I had ground under my foot again, I was happy that common sense won over curiosity this time.